Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Matthew 4:12–23
I was just starting to take my faith seriously in my late 20s. I joined the mom’s group at my parish so I could be encouraged (and influenced) by women who seemed to have the Catholic thing down. A few of us planned to attend an event at a nearby parish, and I remember asking a friend if she wanted to come with me to hear the speaker: “I think it’s called Walking with Purpose or something like that.”
Little did I know that one week later, I’d be agreeing to lead a group of women in a WWP Bible study despite never having done it before. I felt massively underqualified—Scripture was largely a mystery to me, I barely had a regular prayer life, and speaking in front of people made me incredibly nervous. But I knew that God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone and follow Him in this way.
In our gospel reading, Jesus is beginning His public ministry in Galilee, a region known for its fishermen. As He begins His preaching, He calls His first disciples—Peter, Andrew, James, and John—by saying, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). “At once,” it says, “they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:20).
This interaction is fascinating for two reasons. First, Jewish rabbis of that time would typically not choose their students in this way. Students would study the teachings of a particular rabbi and then ask to be mentored by him. Jesus does the opposite; He calls the disciples to Himself and teaches them along the way. Second, the response of the first disciples is one of decisiveness and sacrifice. They immediately left their nets, which meant leaving their livelihood and families behind.
Note that Jesus didn’t ask these men what their knowledge of Scripture was before He asked them to follow Him. He didn’t ask how much money they had or if they had ever done public speaking before. He also didn’t ask if they wanted to bring their boats along with them (just in case).
Everything they needed to follow Jesus would be provided along the way at the right time. And as a result, their relationship with Jesus grew as they worked alongside Him, bringing others closer to the kingdom of heaven.
I can attest to this being true in my own life. I usually feel unprepared whenever I say “yes” to following Him. Yet when I show up, He always provides.
As we see from the gospel story, each disciple of Jesus would give up something in order to follow Him. While sacrifice can sometimes make us want to shrink back, we are more than capable of making sacrifices for other things we want. New year's diet? Check. Less sleep for one more episode? Check. More credit card debt for those cute new shoes? Check.
When I said yes to leading a WWP small group, I had to give up my sense of self-reliance, knowing that I couldn’t do it on my own. I had to make space on my calendar to do the lessons and prepare properly each week. It also meant I had to start getting serious about going to Mass on Sundays (something I had previously struggled with).
Jesus probably isn’t asking you to leave your family behind (although some days that might sound appealing). Perhaps it’s a habit or an influence in your life that you need to let go of. Maybe it’s making time to join that group at church that you’ve been interested in but have been putting off. Could it be saying “no” to certain activities on Sunday so your family can attend Mass?
Jesus calls each and every one of us to follow Him. He isn’t waiting until you have it all together. It doesn’t matter how much Scripture you’ve memorized or how perfect your prayer life looks. He’s calling you now, just as you are.
When we follow Jesus, we choose an active role, not a passive one. How and what that looks like will differ for each of us. But the goal is the same.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, “we are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model.”
A life of following Jesus brings us closer to Him—and that’s the goal. But with it comes a life of adventure and grace that we can’t even imagine as well as a front row seat to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those around us.
Jesus showed up for me when He called me to follow Him twelve years ago, and He continues to do so. If you had told me I would be writing and speaking regularly to women across the country about Jesus today, I wouldn’t have believed it. But if He keeps showing up, then so can I.
With you on the journey,
Food for thought or journaling:
Quiet your heart and ask how God is asking you to follow Him today. What are you holding onto that you need to let go of in order to do this?
Lord, I know You are calling me to follow You. So many unknowns make me hesitant, and I don’t know if I can say yes. Please give me the courage to simply show up. I know that You love me and will be with me every step of the way. Amen.
 Catholic Commentary on Matthew 4:18-25, Mitch and Sri (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 82.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2012), Our communion in the mysteries of Jesus. #521